Nov 6, 2013

Shankarlingeshwara Gudi

Some time mid 2010, travelling between Pattadakal and Aihole, at one point we could see a white structure on a hill. I guessed it must be an ancient temple. The hill was located on the other side of river Malaprabha i.e. beyond the left bank and we had no idea how to reach it. For some reason I did not bother inquiring about the spot. However, every time I traveled that stretch I would look at it.. one day I must see it. Years later I located an unknown hill fort close to Malaprabha left bank. So now we two places on my list.

February 23, 2013
The unknown fort turned out to Akkargal fort, a very interesting place indeed. We left Akkargal and drove towards Pattadakal; about 3½ kms from Akkargal we saw a white structure on a rocky hillock 300 meters to our right, I knew right away we had located the unknown structure. Unfortunately our itinerary did not allow time for this structure, we had two forts ahead of us. We stopped on the road to take few shots with my telephoto lens.

I have to mention one fact here- this temple is the middle of an active quarry. I just wished the quarry staff do no harm to the beautiful looking structure.

Close to the road was another temple and a mantapa, architecture looks Chalukyan.

So close yet so far. Well, the time hasn't come yet. I'll wait.

August 31, 2013
That's our hillock with the unknown structure.

We parked our cab close to the base of the hillock. A quarry worker told us its a temple- Shankarlingeshwar Gudi. The climb was  easy, the entire hill is a quarry, a stock yard of sandstone blocks ready for sale.

The temple is very different compared to temples in the vicinity.

The temple has a fort-like wall around it.
Wow, a triangular gateway, never seen anything like this before.

Inside space is very tight. This isn't an usual type of structure. The shrine's Garbhagudi is a small natural cave. Perhaps, the structure (images A and B) was constructed to shield the cave from wind and rain. Also it would serve as a shelter for priests and visitors. A simple door-frame (C) adorns the caves mouth. Besides the door is a painted sculpture (D) of Shiva-Parvati, Nandi and other Hindu characters. The uppermost portion looks like a Gumbaz, probably added by some Muslim ruler. Whatever the reason was to built that chamber at the top, doesn't seem to be a good one.

I only wish local people has not whitewashed it :-(

A vary narrow, steep stairway links to the top. We climb up to check out the chamber with a narrow ledge around the perimeter. A peep into the chamber, confirmed it as a Gumbaz but it left us wondering how a body could be buried in a rock. Strange location for a tomb! Anyway, the top gave a great view of the whole place.

The temple has fort like walls on three sides, the fourth side is too steep to climb easily. Also there are two bastions. Within the outer walls are partitions creating small chambers, perhaps they were living quarters for priest's family.

This hillock and the neighboring hill form a valley. Long back the place might have had streams and ponds but now the entire area is disturbed by quarrying activity.

This could be one of the experimental temples built during Chalukyan rule.

Also, I wish quarrying activity stops for the sake of this unique historical monument. I guess this place is called as Motar Maradi.


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